In an era when consumers demand that the label declares a product “natural”, some uncommon sugars appearing on the market could live up to the association.
Initial studies on animal have suggested that allulose and other natural, low calorie rare sugars could help regulate glucose levels. Researchers are now exploring how they might utilize these effects.
When sugar is on the ingredient list, most labels refer to sucrose as the natural sweetener. It is plentiful and manufacturers have long ago figured out how to extract it on a huge scale from sugar cane and other sources. Allulose and other rare sugars also can be found in fruits and vegetables, but in very small amounts. Allulose is 70 percent as sweet as sucrose is.
Researchers have however recently discovered an industrial method by which allulose can be produce in big quantities from high fructose corn syrup, which contains about equal parts fructose and glucose. Some studies have suggested that allulose can help control glucose levels and weight gain, but the reason is unknown.
Tomoya Shintani and his colleagues wanted to confirm that these results are true and took a step toward understanding why allulose and potentially other rare sugars have this effect.
In an experiment, the team of scientists gave three groups of rats plain water, water with high fructose corn syrup and water with rare sugar syrup (RSS) for 10 weeks. RSS contains glucose, fructose, allulose and other rare sugars. The rats drinking water infused with RSS had less abdominal fat, gained less weight and had lower insulin and blood glucose levels compared to the group drinking the high fructose corn syrup.
The study also showed that the liver cells’ nuclei in the RSS rats exported higher amounts of glucokinase to the cytoplasm. Glucokinase is an enzyme that reduces blood sugar levels by converting glucose to glycogen, its stored form. Although the researchers note that further testing is needed, the findings indicate that rare sugars could be a good alternative sweetener.